Sunday, October 10, 2010

What the Polls are saying in Minnesota

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Local polling on our gubernatorial race in Minnesota is strangely quiet at a time when the public is thirsty for information!
by Charlie Leck

The Rasmussen polling organization (Rasmussen Reports) claims the Minnesota gubernatorial race is an absolute tie at the moment. It gives Mark Dayton a 2 percentage point lead over Tom Emmer and that is within their margin of error – thus, a tie!

Really? Is that what the other pollers are saying?

Rasmussen’s poll, which usually favors conservatives around the nation, is the only recent scan of Minnesota voters. Several others are due in this week.

Polls inside Mark Dayton’s organization continue to indicate he has a 6 or 7 point lead and that Horner is climbing and Emmer remains static.

If, at any point, some serious polls start to show Emmer with a lead, I really believe Democrats will dessert Dayton in droves and move over to Horner. It’s my own position and that of many other progressives I know. This state can’t take an Emmer governorship.

Here’s how ABC News put it just a few days ago (though I think they missed the real essence of Mark Dayton's plan to balance the budget):
“Dayton, who leads in most polls over Emmer and Horner, has proposed raising state income tax rates to levels already among the highest in the country, while Emmer wants to cut taxes and shrink state government in the face of an historic $5.8 billion budget deficit.

“Horner is playing to the middle with a mix of cuts to state spending, and new sales taxes, to close the budget gap. He also favors new infrastructure projects to create jobs and using state gambling revenues to help fund a new Minnesota Vikings football stadium.”

Walter Shapiro, writing a couple of days ago in Politics Daily, observes that “we have created a nation of armchair campaign consultants.” He draws an image of a country with thousands of bloggers measuring the political climate and taking the nation’s political temperature on a daily basis. I guess I’m one of them.

Polling information is coming in on a rapid and regular basis on federal elections, but not often enough on state elections to be helpful. This is a year when the public really wants to know because it is ready to jump in one direction or another in order to prevent candidates it views as dangerous from winning. I’m one of that jumpy public and I can’t get enough good information to slake my thirst.

Further on in that same column I mention above, Shapiro wonders if 2010 isn’t a difficult year to read the temperature of the voting public and if there might not be some surprises in store for us.
“This is a strange year – and it is possible that both parties (plus the press pack) are all flying blind. In my off-the-record conversations as a reporter, I have talked with Republicans who are more subdued in projecting GOP gains in November than their Democratic counterparts. Sometimes, in fact, I wonder if the private predictions of political insiders say more about their personal bio-rhythms than any secret knowledge.

“So as the campaign days dwindle down to a precious few, it would be wise to remember how cantankerous voters can be – and never assume that polls and prognosticators have taken all the surprise out of politics.”
I have uneasy feelings about this election – very, very uneasy feelings! There is some kind of surprise coming and no one seems to know what it is. I guess that's what makes it a surprise.


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